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In Britain, an inquest is held to determine the facts whenever someone dies unexpectedly, violently or in disputed circumstances.

Inquests do not determine criminal liability, but as the hearing was being held, the government announced those deemed responsible for the disaster could now face criminal prosecution.

Jon Stoddart, who recently retired as chief constable of the Durham force, will lead the new police inquiry, which will also work with the previously announced investigation by the country’s police watchdog into officers’ conduct.

“My role is to ensure that we determine exactly what happened in the lead-up to and on the day of the disaster and establish where any culpability lies,” Stoddart said.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she wants to “deliver justice” for the fans who died and their families.

“I am determined to see a swift and thorough response to the findings of the Hillsborough Panel,” she said.

The disaster led to the introduction of all-seat stadiums for leading clubs in England.

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris